I am writing this letter in support of the Kensington Mine on behalf of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp, because of the financial opportunities the mine affords Southeast Alaska citizens. We have worked for many years to protect our environment and to improve municipal health, worker conditions and opportunities.
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Since 1994, our people in Alaska have participated in the development of the mine. Coeur Alaska's efforts to partner business opportunities with a number of Alaska Native corporations - including Goldbelt, Klukwan, Kake Tribal, Huna Totem, Kootznoowoo, and Sealaska - have resulted in enormous benefits to our membership. More than 380 people are employed in the construction of the project. They come from throughout Alaska. Many were provided mining vocational training through a cooperative program between Coeur, the Berners Bay Consortium (Kake Tribal, Klukwan and Goldbelt), Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the University of Alaska Southeast and the Alaska Department of Labor. Kensington has cultivated jobs and improved labor conditions for our people.
The completion and operation of Kensington is now threatened as a direct result of a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation. The suit claims the use of a small lake for treated tailings storage would cause undue harm to Mother Earth. More than 900 environmental studies have concluded this is not true. Moreover, at risk are many high-paying, year-round jobs that Southeast Alaskans have worked hard to obtain. They are jobs earmarked by Coeur for rural Alaskans. To seek the demise of Kensington is to embrace unemployment throughout Southeast Alaska. This is not acceptable.
For these reasons, we urge SEACC, Sierra Club and LCC to reconsider the full impacts of their litigation and dismiss the lawsuit. The Grand Camp believes strongly in the science that supports the project. The involved federal, state and local agencies have issued all necessary permits to build and operate Kensington. Our mutual goal of clean water will be met.
Coeur has extended an open hand to SEACC, Sierra Club and LCC for open discussions that could satisfy all parties. I pose this question to those opposing the mine: Do you have an alternate source of employment for the workers and families this lawsuit will affect? It is time to drop the lawsuit and do what is necessary and right.
Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp